Each day that there’s a playoff game, we’ll have three things to watch in the NBA playoffs. Each note will be accompanied by a contest. We’ll announce winners after each round. Here’s today’s three things to watch:
1) Miami bouncing back. Even without Derrick Rose, Kirk Hinrich, and Luol Deng — again — the Chicago Bulls shocked the Miami Heat with a 93-86 victory in Miami in Game 1, thanks to improbable performances yet again from Nate Robinson, Jimmy Butler, and Joakim Noah. After losing Game 1, Miami has to feel an impetus to defend its home court, and LeBron James is always due for a dominating performance. I am notoriously terrible at predictions, but I smell a blowout cooking. Is tonight the night the wheels finally fall off for a beaten-up Chicago team?
2) Stephen Curry. Before Game 1 of the Golden State Warriors-San Antonio Spurs series, I said that no player in the league has a light as green as Stephen Curry, and his otherworldly shooting ability makes him a threat for a huge scoring night in any game. Sure enough, Curry dropped a 44-point outburst on the Spurs in a thrilling 129-127 overtime loss — outscoring his next two teammates combined by a full six points. The Warriors offense runs through Curry as its first and second option. Will lightning strike twice again?
3) Nate Robinson. Perhaps the most improbable of all storylines in this year’s playoffs is Nate Robinson’s sudden emergence as an offensive juggernaut. Through eight playoff games, Robinson has averaged 18.3 points in 31.3 minutes per game, shooting 50.4% from the field and 36.6% from deep. Robinson, unbelievably, is doing most of his damage when the game matters most: he leads the entire NBA playoffs in points per game in the fourth quarter with 8.3, including 11 against the Heat in Game 1. The Bulls will need him to come through once again to have a shot against the Heat in Game 2.